I thought I would share just a few thoughts on the art of coaching. As a former classroom teacher and educator, I understand that coaching, like teaching, is about beliefs and values. I recently finished a book study with a group of educators discussing the professional book The Teacher You Want to Be; a collection of essays written by educators from around the world sharing their thoughts and beliefs about teaching children.
These reflections formed the basis of our Statement of Beliefs, thirteen beliefs describing how children should be learning and how schools and educators can best approach teaching.
What does this have to do with coaching? EVERYTHING.
As a fitness client, student, adult learner-whatever you want to call me- I am a learner. I want and need to be valued as a person and human being first and foremost in order to feel confident enough to explore, take risks, and discover my untapped potential.
As a learner, I may:
- ask questions
- have a bad day
- struggle with new concepts
- make bad decisions
- be inconsistent
- make sudden gains
- want to give up
- accomplish the impossible
A good coach will understand that this is part of the learning process and will not give up. Part of what makes a good coach great is being strong in his or her beliefs about how learners progress, what individuals need in order to learn, and how to move the needle in the right direction.
Working with dozens of students-whether in the classroom or in the gym requires more than content knowledge. It requires practice, patience, perseverance and personalization. Coaching-like teaching-is an art.
Lifting weights, running, cycling, rowing, yoga all contribute to a stronger body and stronger mind, but to what end? To truly know and understand why means the ability to transfer and share that knowledge with others.
A great coach is concerned with more than just teaching how to do something.
There is a quote that helps explain what I believe a great teacher should be:
A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. La0 Tzu
A great coach, like a great teacher, will understand what it takes to instill knowledge. And that requires a strong and unwavering belief system.
I overheard my strength and conditioning coach explain to a member who was moving how he assesses potential future members, and first and foremost is conversation about goals, wants and needs to determine if the coaching relationship might be a good fit. How awesome is that to be able to enter into a coach-learner relationship when philosophies and beliefs are in sync.
But as shared in The Teacher You Want To Be essays, with new learning and personal and professional growth some beliefs may change over time. The school year is 180 days, but a gym membership may spend years. As individual beliefs may shift and change it is important to not lose sight of the big beliefs.
The art of coaching- like teaching is about relationships. When you no longer care about the individuals in front of you that is when the learning stops. I am grateful to have learned this lesson as a teacher; it is definitely more difficult as a learner.